Frank Thoms


Oct 23, 2022 by Frank Thoms

If you’ve read my first entry. You know something of who I am. From my early years, I have been what one would call a contrarian. I wanted to be part of life around me intending to do it in my own way. I considered myself a maverick, designing my own lessons and delivering them in my own style. I spent most of my years teaching eighth graders, for me a joy. I wanted my classes to be memorable.

I loved teaching and the adventures I had in and outside of the classroom. My first foray into another teaching world happened in Oxfordshire, England in 1971-2 teaching in a progressive primary school teaching alongside seven-to-ten-year-olds, a remarkable year.

In October 1985, I stepped away from the classroom for a two-week tour of Leningrad, Moscow, and Kyiv. Twenty minutes off the plane in Leningrad's international airport, before meeting our guide I found myself face to face with a Russian women with wild hair and two children. Two days later, I had lunch in her flat, and returned several times; she managed to slip me into a Soviet primary classroom––off the tour.

The day before, two black marketers confronted me on Leningrad’s Nevsky Prospekt. I worried that they would want something from me, despite appearing friendly telling me they “would get me Soviet things.” So I decided to tell them of my mission at that moment: to deliver mini teddybears to two university students at Leningrad State University from friends back home; I never imagined actually finding them given my speaking ten-day Russian and unable to read Cyrillic signage. 

“Frankie, we know these girls. We are having dinner with them tonight.” Five million people in Leningrad and these two back marketers know these girls! Well, I took the bait. What did I have to loose––naive perhaps? After we toured the city in their Lada car, we arrived in a back ally to a private restaurant. The two girls, as promised, were there waiting!

What awaits us when we choose to step outside of the expected, the conventional? What awaits us?

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